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Workouts for Women

All About That Bass: HIIT Squad

Shape your glutes — and crank up your body’s fat-burning furnace — with this squat-and-cardio workout from personal trainer and computer programmer Kelly Von Schleis.

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Challenging weight-training exercises like the squat build muscle in all the right places, while intensive cardio training can strip away the fat. So why not combine them for the best glute-shaping, get-lean benefits of both in one amazing, 18-minute HIIT glute workout?

That’s what certified health coach, personal trainer and IT health-care consultant Kelly Von Schleis did — with booty-shaking results. “I tested this workout with a friend of mine over the weekend and our glutes were sore for three days,” she says. “It was great!”

The session pairs high-intensity interval training (or HIIT for short) with interesting squat variations to keep your muscles guessing at every turn as to what’s coming at them next. “These back-to-back timed exercises will torch calories and get those feel-good endorphins pumping in about 20 minutes,” Von Schleis explains.

Here, you’ll do three types of squats interspersed with three cardio activities for 45 seconds each, resting 15 seconds between each. Run through all six moves three times, then hit the showers — you’ll need it.

Why HIIT instead of more traditional longer-duration cardio? “High-intensity interval training is incredibly effective, and you even get an extra boost of additional caloric burn throughout the day following your workout,” she says. “I always feel great after my HIIT workouts, and they are the perfect quick sweaty sesh to squeeze into my busy work schedule. Let’s face it — we don’t always want to be slaying a workout for 60-plus minutes! It’s nice to get it in and done.”

Equipment required: Exercise band. (Kelly recommends Booty Bands dumbbells and bands. Shoppers who use the link provided will get a 10-percent discount.) Ankle weights are optional but also highly recommended for added toning benefits. (Kelly recommends Bala Bangles ankle weights. Use code KELLYSCHE20 to get 15 percent off all products on the site.)

Suggested warm-up: Do the following circuit of bodyweight moves with no equipment:
10 alternating plank to low lunge/reach to sky (5 per side), plank to toe touch (10 per side), 10 air squats, 20 forward lunges (10 each side) and 20 jumping jacks.

Workout overview: Set up in an open area where you have plenty of room to jump — a mat surface versus hard floor is best for your joints. You’ll do the six exercises listed in the chart below as a circuit. Consider each of the six a one-minute “station,” in which you work for 45 seconds and rest 15. When you get to the final exercise in the circuit, go back and start again at the first — until you’ve done all the movements three times total, which will take about 18 minutes.

Kelly Von Schleis’ HIIT Squad Workout

Perform each movement for 45 seconds, then rest 15 seconds before moving on to the next in the series.

Mode Exercise Sets Time
Exercise Squat to Calf Raise 3 45 seconds
Cardio Burst Alternating Popcorn Jack 3 45 seconds
Exercise Sumo Squat with Pulse 3 45 seconds
Cardio Burst Jump Squat 3 45 seconds
Exercise Plank Jack Squat Thrust 3 45 seconds
Cardio Burst Alternating Popcorn Jack 3 45 seconds
Woman demonstrating a squat to calf raise exercise

1. Squat to Calf Raise

How-To: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and keep your hands clasped together at chest level or put them on your hips. Bend your knees and lower your hips to sit back into a low, controlled squat. As you reverse the motion, press through your heels, focusing on the contraction in your glutes, then once you reach a full standing position, continue elevating onto your toes to activate your calves.

Kelly’s Pointers: “I recommend really driving through the heels on the way up and focusing on keeping your spine neutral throughout the exercise — your eyes should be focused straight ahead. Try to hold the calf raise for one to three counts at the top. Once you master the move, consider looping an exercise band around your legs, just above your knees; doing so with any squat exercise really helps to activate the glutes as you press outward on the band. You also can add dumbbells, either one in each hand at your sides or holding them atop your shoulders.”

Woman demonstrating Popcorn Jacks

2. Alternating Popcorn Jack

How-To: Start in a standing position, feet shoulder-width apart, then jump a few inches. As you land, feet still shoulder-width apart, lower yourself down into a squat, reaching with your right hand to lightly touch the floor between your feet — as you do so, make sure to keep your spine straight and look forward, not down. Immediately come back up into a jump, and land with your feet together with your hands in front of your chest. Right away, jump again, land with your feet shoulder-width apart and lower yourself into a squat, this time touching down with your left hand. Continue the pattern: feet wide and touch down with your right hand, feet together and hands in front of your chest, feet wide and touch down with your left hand, feet together, etc.

Kelly’s Pointers: “The key is to get a rhythm going with these. You’ll be jumping your feet in and out while simultaneously going up and down — I like to do these quickly and ‘drop’ down and ‘pop’ back up. I also prefer to do these with a resistance band above the knees for additional glute activation. If this movement feels too jarring to jump, then simply step your feet in and out on each rep.”

Woman demonstrating a sumo squat pulse with and without weight

3. Sumo Squat with Pulse

How-To: Stand with your feet set slightly wider than hip-width apart and rotate them out approximately 45 degrees, externally rotating your hips. Bend at the hips and knees to drop into a squat, keeping your chest up and knees out. Keep lowering your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor, or even slightly below parallel if you have it in you. Do three tiny pulses at your lowest squat point, then return to the starting position. One squat with three pulses equals one rep.

Kelly’s Pointers: “Be careful not to allow your lower back to round as you descend into the sumo squat. As you lower yourself, think about trying to keep your shins vertical to the floor. Once the unweighted version of the sumo squat fails to thoroughly exhaust your thighs and glutes, it’s time to add some weight: I recommend holding a heavy kettlebell or dumbbell with both hands in front of you so it hangs down in front of your thighs — you’ll know you’re going deep enough if the bottom of the weight nearly touches the floor at your lowest point.”

Woman performing a jump squat

4. Jump Squat

How-To: With your feet shoulder-width apart, hinge at your hips into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Next, swinging your arms forward and upward to help propel you, launch yourself into a high jump as you slightly straighten your legs in the air before returning to a squat position, allowing your knees to bend to 45 degrees as you land. From the squat position, explode up and immediately jump again.

Kelly’s Pointers: “Really swing your arms to launch yourself in the air. This movement should leave you feeling quite tired — give it all you’ve got! And if you get too fatigued to continue jumping for the full 45 seconds, keep going by coming up into a toe raise instead of a full leap. To add intensity, you can add a resistance band above your knees or jump high into a tuck jump, wrapping your arms around your knees at the uppermost point.”

Woman demonstrating a plank jack squat thrust

5. Plank Jack Squat Thrust

How-To: Get into a plank, facing down with your hands and toes in contact with the floor, your wrists directly under your shoulders and your palms facing forward, your body in a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Engage your abdominal muscles, drawing your navel toward your spine. From the plank position, you’ll do three plank jacks: Jump your feet out, toes touching down to the floor, then jump again to bring your legs together, toes touching down again — repeat that twice more for three times total in and out. Next, bring your feet forward and directly in between your planted hands, then thrust up forcefully into a jump squat, landing softly with your hands coming together in front of your chest. Continue downward into a squat, returning your hands to the floor, and propel your feet back to the plank position, where you’ll repeat the sequence. Three plank jacks plus one squat thrust equals one full repetition — although you should just keep moving for the 45 seconds instead of counting reps.

Kelly’s Pointers: “This is a great core-stabilizing, agility-building exercise! Instead of a traditional plank, where you’re holding an isometric contraction, think of this as a cardio drill that should be executed quickly and with excellent form. If the jump from the plank to the squat seems uncomfortable or too advanced for you, just step one leg in at a time into the squat thrust instead.”